I’m a man, but it seems that society would rather I not be. And, the same appears so for all the rest of the boys and men out there. But, we should let the boys be boys and the men be men.
At the heart of boys and men, there is a sense of adventure and mystery. A feeling to want to always be on the hunt. Doesn’t matter if it’s food or a princess, or just for a rush of adrenalin. Admittedly, we have a hard time sitting still.
Society doesn’t like that.
What does society wish us to be? Soft. Reserved. Last. You know, everything that we aren’t!
Sure, there’s more to boyhood and manhood that this. That’s a given. But one thing I’ve become increasingly frustrated with is the lack of boys being boys. In other words, men being able to be men.
I’m currently reading a book by John Eldredge titled Wild at Heart. I’d like to share with you two paragraphs from a chapter I just finished that sort of highlights just a small part of the problem.
“Most of you will remember the tragic story from April 1999. Two boys walked into the school library and began shooting; when it was all over, thirteen victims and their two assailants were dead. Sommers is alarmed about the remarks of William Pollack, director of the Center for Men at McLean Hospital, and so am I. Here is what he said: “The boys in Littleton are the tip of the iceberg. And the iceberg is all boys.” The idea, widely held in our culture, is that the aggressive nature of boys is inherently bad, and we have to make them into something more like girls. The primary tool for that operation is our public school system. The average schoolteacher faces an incredible challenge: to bring order to a room of boys and girls, and promote learning. The main obstacle to that noble goal is getting the boys to sit still, keep quiet, and pay attention… for an entire day. You might as well hold back the tide. That’s not the way a boy is wired, and it’s not the way a boy learns. Rather than changing the way we do male education, we try to change males.
“As Lionel Tiger reports in his book The Decline of Males, boys are three to four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed as suffering from attention deficit disorder (ADD). But maybe they’re not sick; maybe, as Tiger says, “This may simply mean they enjoy large-muscle movements and assertive actions… Boys as a group appear to prefer relatively boisterous and mobile activities to the sedate and physically restricted behavior that school systems reward and to which girls seem to be more inclined.”
I’d like to make a note about the start of that first paragraph. If you didn’t notice, Eldredge was referencing the tragic shooting at Columbine. No, neither Eldridge or I am condoning such brutal acts of murder.
And, again, I’d like to re-state something that was quoted: this is just a part of the tip of an iceberg. Society and culture are saying it’s wrong for boys and men to be boys and men. We’re just not wired that way.
I’m NOT! Heck, I’m almost 40 years old and I still can’t sit still and be quiet for periods of time, short or long. Doesn’t matter. In my head, I’m still quietly talking to myself and creating adventures. I’m plotting and planning ways to go and dig roads in the yard to play cars with my grandson. I drive by the woods and think of all the trouble and adventure I could discover.
I think that’s why I loved, and still do, the comic Calvin and Hobbes. And partly why I picked the picture I did for this post. Calvin was a visual representation of every little boy at heart; including myself.
In short, can I just ask what it will take for us to let the boys be boys, and men be men?